Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Watching the Big Game

PartyPoker Big Game IVLooks like PartyPoker’s Big Game IV’s -- that nonstop 48-hour cash game being played at Les Ambassadeurs in London -- will be wrapping up within a few hours.

A couple of players, David “Viffer” Peat and Neil Channing, have been there from the start (although I believe Channing might have gotten voted off the table). Others who have been coming and going include Tony G, Luke “FullFlush” Schwartz, Jennifer Tilly, Dusty “Leatherass” Schmidt, Isaac Haxton, Justin Bonomo, Roland de Wolfe, Andrew Feldman, and a few more.

I believe there were about 20 players altogether scheduled to play. For details on all of the action, including who is up and who is down, you can check out Adam “Snoopy1239” Goulding’s excellent live reports from the event over on the PartyPoker blog: Day 1 and Day 2.

Of course, the big story from the Big Game during the days leading up to it was the announcement that Isidur1 would be playing, thanks to the backing of Tony G. Such was thought to be the case up until the eve of the event when Tony G informed us on his blog that despite various arrangements having been made -- including allowing for the possibility of letting Isildur1 play while wearing a mask (no shinola) -- online poker’s international man of mystery had decided not to play.

Tony G makes his entrance on a bicycle at the Big Game IVTony G -- who rode into the Big Game on a bike to the accompaniment of Queen’s “Bicycle Race” (natch) -- also notes that Isidur1 will be in Monte Carlo for the EPT Grand Final (scheduled at the end of April). We’ll see if that pans out.

While no official “outing” has happened yet, most seem to agree that Isildur1 is the young Swedish player Viktor Blom. Tony G said as much in late November 2009 (“I can reveal to all it is Viktor”), though later would equivocate and suggest he wasn’t as certain. Blom himself apparently denied being Isildur1 then, though soon it was determined the fellow issuing the denial wasn’t the poker player but another Viktor Blom. Speculation continued, with Luke “FullFlush” Schwartz adding his two cents last month in an interview for PokerPlayer U.K., saying he was indeed Blom.

Last month I wrote a post about Mike Matusow’s interview on the TwoPlusTwo Pokercast in which “The Mouth” offered some thoughts regarding Isildur1 and the high-stakes games in which he’s been participating over on Full Tilt. Had a comment on that one from Jeremiah (Smith, I believe) who’d spoken with Barry Greenstein about Isildur1, and the Bear told Jeremiah that he’d played with him in a tourney. Seems safe to say there are many in the poker community -- esp. among those who play high stakes -- who know who Isildur1 is.

Kara Scott has been there at Les Ambassadeurs hosting the televised coverage of the Big Game that will be airing later this year in the U.K. before being shopped around internationally. Once she’s done with that, I’ll be talking with her for an upcoming Betfair piece. Definitely plan to ask her about the Big Game as well as “High Stakes Poker” and see what she has to say about our fascination with these high-stakes games.

The fact is, while the “Who is Isildur1?” thing is no doubt interesting, even when we know the players’ names and what they look like, they still often tend to captivate a lot of us who aren’t playing for the highest stakes. Indeed, the very fact that they are playing for such high stakes necessarily makes them mysterious to us (in a way), adding a layer of intrigue that they may or may not deserve, but which nevertheless often grabs our attention.

As Al Alvarez puts it in The Biggest Game in Town, when it comes to high-stakes players, “It is a question not just of a different level of skill but of a different ordering of reality.” In other words, they are not like us. They see the world in a different way. They do things we wouldn’t do.

You know, like ride a bicycle indoors.

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